2: Radio Ga Ga
“Radio, someone still loves you”
As Lincoln was about to follow them into the bathroom, he tripped on something large. He looked down to see Pepper’s body on the floor. “Pepper!”, he exclaims.
He lightly slaps her cheek, trying to wake her up. She doesn’t budge. He leans down, pressing his ear on her chest. Thank goodness, there’s still a heartbeat in there.
Lincoln uses all his might to pick her up from the floor. Nevertheless, though he was using all his force, Pepper was still a bit heavy for him. The only solution to pick her up was to drag her but he didn’t want to do that. While the rest of the Witches were looking at Chris’s brother, Lincoln was putting all his attention on Pepper, since no one was noticing her.
While trying to come up with an idea, the phone ring. Lincoln looked over at the ruined door to see if anyone would come out. No one did. Guess they didn’t hear it, he thought. He looks down at Pepper, carefully setting down her head back on the floor. He walked over to the nearest ringing phone, picking it up. “Hello.”, he asked.
A woman, an old woman’s voice come on the other line, asking for Riley Hood. Lincoln informed the woman that Riley was there. After that, he set the phone down on the table it was standing on and went into the bathroom to fetch Riley. He told her about the call.
She agreed to take it. Lincoln didn’t even see Andrew’s dead body. His mind was too focused on Pepper. He went back to Pepper. He saw how her chest was rising a fall when her eyes fluttered open. He rushes over to her, getting down on his knees, trying to help her up.
Pepper held her hand to her head as Lincoln helped her. She hissed in pain every second or so. Lincoln went on her pace to stand her up. From the corner of his eye, he saw Riley. She was still, only hold the phone to her ear. He couldn’t tell her facial expressions, for he was far away, but with the way her body shook, she was trying to keep her tears inside.
“How are you?”, Lincoln whispered to Pepper.
“I’m fine.”, she said as he held her hand to her head. Lincoln raises an eyebrow at her. She sighs defeated, “I’ll be okay.” Lincoln only nods at her response.
After a few minutes, Riley hung up the phone. As she turned around, Lincoln was right. Her eyes were red and wet, but they didn’t show sadness. They showed anger. Pepper saw her and imminently walked up to her. “Riley, what’s wrong?”, she asked as she looked into her eyes. Riley shakes her head, walking past Pepper, leaving her stunned.
Riley walked back into the bathroom where everyone was gathered. Lincoln and Pepper follow behind her. As they enter, they see everyone on the floor surrounding Chris holding his dead brother in his arms. They’re all hugging him, trying to comfort him. Lincoln and Pepper join the group hug. The only one absent is Nathan, who lying on the floor outside, falling asleep, not being able to move because of his injury.
“Hey. Chris.”, Mike spoke out as tears ran down his eyes. Chris doesn’t listen to Mike. He just continues sobbing on his brother’s corpse. Mike lets go of what he was about to say.
“Riley, why didn’t it work?”, Chris softly says. Riley detaches from the hug. They all do.
“What?”, Riley asks, not sure what he said but she knows that he called out to her. Chris gently places his brother on the floor, standing up to walk to Riley.
“I asked, why the hell didn’t your spell work?”, he sternly stated. His eyes looked desperate. He wasn’t mad at her. He was disappointed.
“I don’t know.”, she softly says, looking at the ground. Chris has known Riley for many years. Looking at her now, he knew she wanted to tell him something, but she was holding back on telling him. Maybe so he wouldn’t have to deal with anything else but his brother’s passing.
“Riley, what do you want to tell me?” Riley looks up at him in surprise. He was serious. He loved his brother so much, but he was gone now. Chris knew that from now on, he’ll care for the ones he loves who are still living. It was never too early to start. More tears started spilling from her eyes.
“My mom is dead.”, she whispered.
The Witches have been dealing with their troubles for as long as they could remember. They don’t even remember what it was like when they were happy. They grew up faster, for they never had a childhood. Now, what they have been preparing for their whole lives is here. But they were nowhere near ready.
The next day, Kevin and Tyler decided to spend the day at the town library. Kevin is sitting at one of the large tables in the building while Tyler is looking for more books about the recent history of Lylac. Kevin flips through the pages of one of the history books. As he turns each page, he sees the uninteresting reports.
Sometimes, he wonders how a town as dull as his own, could even have a history that catches attention nationally or internationally. No wonder it is so low populated and unknown to most parts of the country. He keeps turning the pages, quickly skimming them then moving on. He stops when he sees the title of one article. “Real Sorcerers in Our Town”, it read.
He started skimming the article. “The Witches Club”, he mumbled as he read. “June 25, 1994. A pack of youngsters formally known now as the Witches Club has been caught doing witchcraft...”, he silently read. Tyler came back with empty hands.
“Hey, did you find it?”, he whispered, interrupting Kevin’s reading.
“Yeah. Look.”, Kevin slides the book to Tyler so he could read the section.
Tyler reads, “June 25, 1994. A pack of youngsters formally known now as the Witches Club has been caught doing witchcraft by a hiker last week. The mayor suggests these kids are only here to spread negativity to the local town. They are to be caught and punished for their crimes. None of them have been seen for the past week but police say to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity.” Tyler turns the page to continue reading the article but to his surprise, the next page starts a new day and a new story. “Wait, that’s it?”
“I’m afraid so.”, Kevin shrugs.
“I’ll be right back.” Tyler didn’t believe that was all the library had. He knew that there had to be more. He just knew it. Kevin didn’t mind his friend’s enthusiasm or dedication. It’s rare to see Tyler like this so Kevin somehow enjoyed it now. At the same time, he wasn’t used to it. As he was gone, Kevin looked back on the article.
“′ I truly believe they are hiding something.’, a citizen says. ‘They can’t be going against the word of God for pleasure. I believe they are our enemies, but they don’t want us to know they are our enemies. That’s the secret.’ Blah, blah, blah. ‘videotape’”, Kevin stops reading. “Videotape? What videotape?”
Just then, Tyler returned. “Kevin.”, he calls out. Kevin shuts the book when he hears Tyler’s voice. “Come on, the librarian agreed to take to the back of the library. She said every single piece of history of our town is found there.”, he tells Kevin. Kevin nods, picking up the book, taking with it with him.
Kevin and Tyler follow the librarian to the library’s basement. There are dozens of shelves filled with old dusty books. The lights flicker as the librarian turns them on. The light coming from the bulbs above was faint, gloomy. “Feel free to look around.”, she said as she exited.
Kevin quietly thanked the librarian as she left. Kevin and Tyler split up, looking at the recent activity if the decade. They looked everywhere in the basement, not only the shelves of books. Tyler spotted a small box when he reached to look under the shelves and drawers.
He hears something inside as he grabs it. When Tyler opens the box, there is a cassette tape along with a player inside. “Look! A tape cassette. And look! Here’s the player.”, he shouts with excitement as he takes out the objects.
“Play it.”, Kevin encourages him as they both sat down on the cold concrete floor of the basement. Tyler inserts the cassette into the player and clicks the black play button. At first, there’s static but then a man’s voice is heard. His voice was deep, rough, dead of emotion.
“Hello, it is John Markson. I am here to meet a boy named Chris Davis. His mother called me. She said she believes her son is schizophrenic, that he has been talking about unrealistic things and talking to people who aren’t there so I’m here to see. Oh, he’s coming. Chris, please have a seat.”, there’s suddenly a pause in the recording.
“Alright, if you don’t want to sit, I’ll just talk. Your mother called me here. She believes something is happening in your life that you’re afraid to share. Is there something going on?”, the tone of the man’s voice changes, as if he were trying to seem harmless. Anyone could have been fooled by the change No answer is given.
“How about this? We’ll play a game. It’s a yes or no game. If what I ask is yes, you come one step closer to the chair in front of me. If what I ask is no, you take a step back. If you reach the door, you can go but if you reach the chair, you sit.”, his voice was getting somewhat impatient.
“Is that a deal?”, Kevin and Tyler became more intrigued, especially Tyler.
“Are you having a troubled life? Is someone hurting you? Is it your mom? Is it your dad?”, the man asks. Every question was followed by silence, a light footstep, then silence again.
“Is it someone at school?”, nothing bat silence is followed by that question. There’s an inhale and exhale in the background, a deep one. A soft, innocent, child-like voice speaks
“My parents don’t hurt me. I’m homeschooled. Nobody is hurting me.”, the child responds.
“But you just said that someone is hurting you. Who is it?”, the man argues. There’s a pause in the recording. “Do you have a secret that you don’t want to tell me?”, the man asks.
“Look”, the child is quick to respond “You’re nice. But you can’t help me.”
The recording ended with the sound of a door closing. “Did people become obsessed with looking for them to find their secret? What was so special about a secret between children?”, Kevin asks.
Tyler shakes his head, not knowing the answer to his question “People probably wanted to help them. But then they gave up. Keep looking.”, he says.
Kevin nods, standing up, walking to the metal drawer found in the basement. In each of the drawer boxes were daily newspapers. He starts looking through all the ones labeled in this decade. Paper after paper was a written story with a photo beside it to represent that story. His eyes catch one from 1994. Kevin grabs it with his thumb and index finger, carefully taking it out of the flies. “Satan in Our Town?”, the title read. Kevin skimmed through, immediately spotting the 3 words he was looking for in the first sentence “The Witches Club”
“Look I think I found something!”, he shouts.
“What? What is it? What’d you find?”, Tyler asks as he walks up to him. Kevin hands him the newspaper “July 22, 1994. The organization of wicked tricks known as ‘The Witches Club’ has been spotted once again in town. After the tape cassette of one of the members was released a month ago, people have been looking for them. The mayor is giving away a $100,000 award to whoever finds them and saves our town. Now with the searches, the kids seem harder to find. What is their secret? Are we their enemy? How can we be safe? The-”, Tyler reads.
Kevin interrupts him by taking the newspaper, tearing the whole front page from the rest of the prints. “What are you doing?”, Tyler asks dumbfounded.
“What does it look like I’m doing?”, Kevin sarcastically asks. He folds the page he tore off into the smallest shape he could. Then, he stuffed it into one of Tyler’s back pockets. “Let’s go.”, he said.
Two days later, Monday afternoon, Kevin and Tyler sat on the desks of their final class. Kevin is struggling with the final problem on his Math exam. Tyle is about 2 desks behind him, he had finished a long time ago. Kevin shows his habit as he thinks, looking up at the room then back on his paper.
Finally, the answer comes to his mind and he writes it down. As he walks back from turning in his test to the teacher’s desk, he sees a figure outside the window. It looked like a kid around his age. He was looking inside the classroom.
Kevin kept eyeing him until the boy outside the window noticed Kevin’s stare. The bell rings just then and the boy ran. Kevin’s instinct is to go after him. So that’s what he did.
Kevin immediately rushes out of the room, leaving his stuff. When Tyler sees him leave, he rushed to get his things together then rushes to get Kevin’s stuff. He follows him with the two backpacks on each shoulder. once Kevin exits the main doors, he keeps his speedy pace as he walks to the window where he saw the kid.
Of course, once he arrives at the window, no one is there. Tyler runs behind him. “Kevin, you ok?”, Tyler asks concerned.
“Yeah, I just... I have to go home now.”, Kevin replies, brushing it off while grabbing his backpack from Tyler
“Do you need me to go with you?”, Tyler asked as Kevin walked up to his bike that was chained to a tall pole.
“No thank you. I’ll be okay. See you tomorrow.”, he says, loosening the chain and grabbing the bike.
Kevin rides on the road of Rockwall, a path he knows too well, he could ride this blindfolded without a problem. Rockwall road is famous for the large rock wall on the side of it. Suddenly, Kevin sees a large crack on his path. It was probably made by the weathering of some of the trees’ roots.
Kevin tries to avoid the crack, so he goes around it. However, with the very thin strip of undamaged road that was there, he ends up veering off the road, causing his to crash and knock his unconscious with the safety fence. The wooden fence was placed there because, on the other side, a small but dangerous cliff was located. Kevin’s scalp started to bleed.
Moments after, Lincoln and Nathan walk on the road of Rockwall. “Someone saw you?”, Nathan asked, repeating what his friend had just told him but in a question.
“Yes. I’m sure of it.”, Lincoln says so certainly. “But I got out of there as fast as I could.“, he continues.
“Good, who knows what they could have done to you. You need to be more careful.”
“I know. I know. I’ll be more careful.”
Though Nathan was smaller than Lincoln in shape, he was wiser. He understood the idea of staying alive with they are known to the rest of the people as terrorists. The searching used to be worse but now, it has kind of died. The Witches were too good, no one would find them. All because of Nathan. Chris thanks him for that.
Suddenly as Lincoln is too busy staring at the ground as he walks, Nathan notices Kevin’s unconscious body on the floor. “Stop!”, he reaches his arm in from of Lincoln to stop him from walking. “Look.”, Nathan points to what he is looking at.
Lincoln’s eyes follow Nathan’s finger to what he’s pointing at. That’s when he too sees Kevin’s body. He gasps as he sees the sight. Both run to Kevin’s rescue.
Lincoln rolls Kevin over so his back is flat on the concrete. He places his ear on Kevin’s chest, listening for a sign of a heartbeat. He is relieved when he hears the thump-thump of his heart. “He’s alive.”, he breathes out.
Nathan sighs in relief too. As Lincoln checks Kevin’s pulse, Nathan reaches into Lincoln’s old backpack for his walkie talkie.
“Witches, are you there?”, he signals. “This is Nathan. Over.”, when no one answers, he starts to get anxious. “This is an emergency. Do you copy? Over.”, Nathan waits again, yet not one answers. He is about to call again when he hears a voice on the other side.
“This is Anthony. I’m here. What’s going on? Over.”, the voice over the radio responds. Nathan smiles thankfully.
“Anthony, there’s an unconscious boy on Rockwall. We need all hands on deck. Over and out.”, he hangs up and goes to assist Lincoln.
Meanwhile, Riley and Chris sit together on Chris’s bed at his house. They look at photo albums, mostly to remember Andrew. Even since Andrew passed, Chris hadn’t been himself. He distanced himself from the club he created.
Everyone thought they should leave him alone, that he needed his time alone. Everyone except Riley. She has known her best friend for years. She had the special power of looking through people and read their minds. The more she knew them, the easier it was to detect their feelings.
“And look, this was the day we attended the grand carnival.“, he chuckled as he looks at the photo. He pointed at a photograph of a younger Chris and Andrew. The photo was most likely taken by his mom. She was always into art.
Riley only listens to her friend. She pays attention to everything he tells her. A tear slips out of his eye as he pauses. Then he stops speaking altogether, just turning the pages of the album. “This is all my fault.”, he whispers.
Riley’s eyes widen slightly. More tears fall form Chris’s eyes as he turns the pages. Some droplets fell on the picture. He didn’t bother to wipe them, not even the ones on his face. “No. No, Chris. This is not your fault.”, she tries to comfort him. rubbing his back in a caressing way.
“Yes. Yes, it is. I should have been there for him.”, he argues. His voice becomes aggressive.
“Chris, you were there.”, she expresses the word ‘were’. “You tried to protect him. We all did.”, Riley paused. “I miss him too, so I won’t say, ‘I’m sorry for your loss’”, she whispers. Chris turns his head to look at her. Her eyes are true to her words.
He looks at her with confusion in his eyes. She saw he was lost. He didn’t know where to go from here. “T-Thank you, Riley.”, he stuttered, catching Riley off guard.
She pulls him into a tight hug. He doesn’t try to adjust himself to hug her bag properly. Instead, he puts his hand over Riley’s arm that’s on his chest and closes his eyes.
She didn’t care that they weren’t hugging the way most friends would. She just needed him to know that she, along with the rest of the Witches, will always be there for him. No matter what. With the comforting words of his friend, the guilt in his heart calms down.
Suddenly, interrupting the silence, a rapid knock is heard on Chris’s bedroom door. Chris’s eyes shoot open by the sound. He leans away from Riley. The person behind doesn’t wait for Chris or anyone to respond, Instead, they just bust open the door. “Chris!”, Johnny shouts, the look on his face: pure panic.
“Johnny? What are you doing here?”, Chris asks, getting out of his bed and walking to the kid having an anxiety attack. Riley follows in his footsteps, closing the photo album and gently placing it on the bed before getting up as well.
“Lincoln and Nathan found an unconscious boy on Rockwall. We need to get there fast.”, each word came out one by one. Johnny was having trouble speaking so he often stuttered the words.
“Why are you so afraid?“, the cold heart Chris developed towards the people in his town was taking for him now. All the hate and fear of the people caused his heart to freeze over them. He’s protective of his group because he only cares for them. Only them. “Why would we help him?”
Johnny knew about Chris’s loss of faith towards Lylac’s citizens; however, Johnny never lost his. Though, yes, people did abuse them, almost killed them, Johnny, along with other members knew not everyone was like that. “Chris, even though people like him hurt us, we can’t do the same thing to him. Chris, I don’t care how hurt I get, I will always have my faith that things have changed. Not everyone will be like them or the director.”, Chris and Riley freeze by the mention of his name. The director, the betrayer of the Witches Club. The one they swore they will never speak about again.
“So, we’re helping him, with or without your help. Be the captain you promised to be.”, Johnny spits.
By the mention of the enemy and by the words that came out of Johnny’s mouth, Chris and Riley are speechless. Though he hated helping the rival, he reluctantly agrees to go. So, they do.
Back on Rockwall, Riley, Chris, and Johnny arrived. The rest of the Witches are already there when they arrived. They surrounded Kevin while assuming what to do with him.
“Do we take him to the clubhouse?”, Mike suggesting asks.
Chris is quick to respond. “No. We can’t!”, he says, shaking his head. Mike looks down, disappointed in himself for asking such a stupid question. Chris walks up to him, seeing his expression. He places his hand on Mike’s shoulder. “Mike, you know what’ll happen if we do.”, he softly continues. Make nods, understanding.
“Then let’s take him to my house. I only live one block away.”, Anthony suggests.
They all look at him but then agree. It was the closest place and they were lucky. Anthony’s mom worked as a nurse. Over the years, Anthony has picked up a few of his mom’s actions.
He was their healer, their medic. So that’s where they all decided to take Kevin, the free infirmary. They all worked together to carry this kid off the ground without hurting him even more. Lincoln carried Kevin from his head, Johnny and Nathan carried his arms so they wouldn’t dangle, Mike and Chris carried Kevin from his waist, and Pepper and Riley carried his legs.
Anthony grabbed the bike off the floor, not riding it but walking it as he led the way towards his house. Sure, they were saving a stranger, but the small piece of hatred in their heart was turning into pity for this kid. He was weak in their eyes. And somehow, they could see that he was like them. Anthony saw it the most.